St Macaire to Bordeaux - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 2 - CycleBlaze

June 12, 2018

St Macaire to Bordeaux

The Race to Roger Lapébie and a city beside the water.

June 12 Tuesday  55kms 

The Race to Roger Lapébie and a city beside the water.

A dull and overcast St Macaire sky beacons through our shuttered window , but we pack in anticipation of this final leg of the Garonne Route. Enjoy a reasonably fortifying breakfast of croissants and baguettes with lashings of jam and cafe. Really missing the crunch of muesli but I suspect it’s viewed as birdseed here. Our hosts at ‘Domaine Dame Blanche’, Madame et M’sieu Bullat have little English which is good for us because it enables  us to practise our rudimentary  French, and so we share much about each other’s lives and families. They show us photos of their two children who live in the Haute Savoie.  We are their premier NZ guests. M’sieu tells us of a US professor’s visit with much gesticulating. 

Our hosts at Domaine Dame Blanche, St Macaire.
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Eventually we retrieve our velos from the garage and we  finally depart at 9:30 am, in our rain jackets, and a light drizzle,  selecting the D10 because it is restricted to cars and a speed of 70kph.

D10 and direction Bordeaux.
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We make  very good speed on the road, sometimes with a shoulder, sometimes not. It’s hard not to be too praising of French drivers, but their consideration and care could teach NZ drivers so much.

Latresne
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These look very like Pohutukawa. Could they be related?
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On a number of occasions cars and buses hold back to allow us to reach the brow of a hill or manage a difficult spot and they always give  us plenty of space when passing. Our route passes through a number of pretty villages and wine growing areas- Cadillac (connected to the car via an 18th century French ambassador to Louisiana), Rions and Latresne. Each still retains  ancient towers, walls and hilltop fortifications.

Le Pied du Château.
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Our goal is  to get to the Roger Lepebie cycle route, about 30 kms from St Macaire, by lunchtime, and this we do,  with much joy, as it is  about 10km out from Bordeaux city centre.

La Piste Roger Lapebie.
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The ride in is a breeze- in fact the route is being upgraded and will provide excellent cycling- and the view impressive as the city presents itself in spectacular fashion on the far bank. It is one of the most dramatic presentations of any French city I’ve seen. 

Spoilt for choice but it’s Bordeaux Centre today.
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Approaching Bordeaux
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Pont de Pierre
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Made it. Salut!
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As with other French cities, cyclists abound. In Bordeaux they seem  to be everywhere, coming at you, passing you and racing along with you. At the lights a chap asks us where we’ve  been, where are we going, with genuine interest and encouragement- Bon courage!

We find our apartment and an exiting resident kindly rings the agent for us to see if we might be allowed entre despite our early arrival. In the word of General De Gaulle, it is  a big fat ‘Non’. Generously,  resident puts up a good argument on our behalf but still - ‘non’. 

In a strange kind of surreal byplay, all the time this is happening, a group of soldiers are patrolling their way slowly down the street fingers on the triggers of their firearms. They walk by, seemingly unconcerned about all that is going on.  There is a Jewish school across the road and security is high. We are interested in a chap who seemed to be associated, in civies and hovering in the shadows; we finger him for Mossad agent. Later though, he kindly calls  our agent and he proves  to be not the least bit sinister but rather very friendly and amiable with a dry sense of humour.

In order to kill the hours waiting for our apartment owner to turn up, we cycle into the centre and explore a little. Bordeaux Cathédrale  Saint-André  is an impressive gothic structure with beautiful carved statues around the north portal.

Cathédrale de Saint Andre.
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Place Pey Berland
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Once ensconced in our natty apartment ‘with balcony’ (handy for tent drying), we seek out our old friend Carrefour. First task is wine selection and a bottle of the local product. We selected a €5 Bordeaux, tastefully studded with gold stars. It complements the Toulouse saucisson perfectly.

Reflecting on a hearty Bordeaux.
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Today's ride: 55 km (34 miles)
Total: 1,011 km (628 miles)

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